Recently, I read an extraordinary article in The New Yorker by Juno Diaz chronocling the painful ramificaations of sexual trauma. The Pulitzer Prize winning author is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and one of the things he wote about was the need to wear a mask to cover his pain and shame (a need many survivors identify with). This poem was inspired by that article.


The Oxford dictionary defines mask as: 1 A covering for all or part of the face,
worn as a disguise.

Some masks are frivolity and fun ~ think Mardi Gras for one.

But for a universe of other others
masks are worn as prosthetics for survival

not charming ornamentations for celebrations.

Carefully crafted
coverings concealing shame
disguises hiding deep seeded pain
splendid rebuttals to muffled cries
desperate deceits ~ blessed lies.

They serve us well.

And yet ~ since "The truth shall make you free",
we who wear them to hide our haunted humanity
are prisoners.

Only by dropping our well worn masks
revealing the degrading darkness of hell
can we hope to finally
finally bask
in the life giving light outside our cell.